US Mint History


U.S. Mint History Since 1792

Our U.S. Mint facilities are presently striking coins for circulation in the United States– The Philadelphia Mint, the Denver Mint, the San Francisco Mint, and and the newest U.S. Mint located in West Point, New York. Four other historic U.S. Mint facilities are long-closed and almost forgotten. These mints produced some of the lowest original mintages of all U.S. coins. Today, only a tiny fraction have survived and these are the most highly prized coins in demand by serious U.S. rare coin collectors.

Anyone looking to acquire the oldest and rarest of U.S. Mint coins often look first to early branch U.S. Mints opened in the Old South before the Civil War. The first Southern branch mint opened in New Orleans in 1838. Later, as Gold was discovered in Georgia, official branches of the U.S. Mint were opened in Charlotte, North Carolina and Dahlonega, Georgia.


U.S. Mint Marks

The coins of each branch of the U.S. Mint are identified by a small letter on the coins called "mint marks." These marks date back to ancient Greece and Rome. Through the Act of March 3, 1835, the Director of the Mint set regulations to identify the coins issued from each U.S. Mint branch. This central control made exact standards of production and responsibility for coinage possible.

Most rare coins in the 1800s stayed close to the U.S. Mint where they were struck. San Francisco and Carson City coins circulated on Western Frontiers and seldom appeared back East, while Philadelphia and New Orleans coins stayed to the east. Collectors soon realized that it was a rare occasion when they found coins "out of region."

And that's how the hobby of collecting coins by mint marks began with early U.S. coin collectors. This tradition continues to this day among coin collectors and investors. To learn more about the U.S. Mints, this site will guide you through a brief history and photos of each mint.